Spotlight on Valentina Laugeri (UCL Political Science), UCL Millennium Fellowship Campus Director
What is your role and what does it involve?
I am one of the Campus Directors ‒ alongside Summer Wyatt-Buchan ‒ for the Millennium Fellowship Scheme Class of 2021 at UCL. I am tasked to both lead my own project and guide the other 23 students of our campus in their social impact projects.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I am now a second-year Politics & International Relations student and have been conducting SDGs work on my own scale for the past four years. I write for the International Public Policy Review at UCL to help raise awareness about SDG-related issues like migration or environmental policies through my work.
Alongside my UCL-based activities, I am also the founder of a refugee-initiative in Switzerland, in collaboration with a cantonal migration centre, which I continue to lead remotely during my time in London. Our aim is to facilitate refugee children’s integration by organising weekly activities and language courses.
Tell us about something you’re working on at UCL that is supporting the SDGs
I currently work with five other Millennium Fellows on a project called ‘Next Chapter’. We focus on SDG3 (Good Health & Wellbeing) and SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities), with the aim of facilitating the integration of young refugees through interactive language classes and weekly events and workshops. In collaboration with middle schools, our project also aims to raise awareness about the migratory situation. I am now also planning an exhibition at UCL of artwork by students from our partner institutions on their interpretations of the concept of migration.
Beyond work, which of your everyday activities contributes most to one or more of the SDGs?
I try to make it a habit to initiate and sustain collaboration. I think that if we all get used to co-operating on a daily basis, as opposed to only when we struggle or require support, our generation will be more likely to initiate the large-scale changes we aspire to instil. In the Millennium Fellowship Scheme, we speak of leading by example, and I think that showing that we are capable of co-operating and reaching agreements that benefit all parties and humanity as a whole is possible. I consider this to be my contribution to SDG17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
And what do you do that has the most detrimental impact on the Goals?
Probably my travel habits. With my family living abroad, I am not the eco-friendliest traveller at all times. I am aware that this has an impact on SDG13 (Climate Action), SDG14 (Life Below Water) and SDG15 (Life on Land), and I’m still learning to balance my desires to explore the world and duties to the planet, too!
In your opinion, which of the SDGs is the most important for humanity to address?
SDG1 (No Poverty), if only because eliminating poverty as a whole would have countless positive repercussions on all the other SDGs.
If there was an 18th Goal, what should it be?
SDG18: (Community and Harmony).
I think ideas and elements related to this are imbedded in other SDGs ‒ which are all interconnected ‒ but I believe that once we’ve accomplished all other 17 SDGs, humankind is going to need a mechanism to stay that way. I think the way forward will have to be focused on harmony and community, both with other humans but also with the environment and other species who coexist with us.
If you could bring in one law or societal shift to help the UK address the SDGs, what would it be?
I would make most plastics illegal. If banning plastic is a bit extreme, I would advocate for a policy in which plastic consumption is regulated.
What is the biggest challenge to the world achieving the Goals by 2030?
As it goes for most issues the world faces, I think the main problem is collaboration. States are but a collection of individuals, and individuals tend to do things alone. Simply because we reiterate that we are willing to collaborate, it does not mean we ever do. If there is more of a collective effort, where all parties accept that sacrifices have to be made and acknowledge that the “long-term” doesn’t exist without those sacrifices, I think we can go a lot further.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I speak four languages and cry over children’s movies.
Undergraduate students at UCL are encouraged to apply to be one of the Millennium Fellowship Scheme Class of 2022. The deadline for applications is 31 March.